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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Humanitarian Action Plan 2008
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the poorest countries in the world. Human suffering deeply roots in decades of civil unrest and conflict. Since 1998, famine, violence and disease have taken over 3.5 million lives. Though bearing Africa’s highest potential for prosperity in terms of forests and mineral wealth, the vast majority of Congolese live in extreme poverty, with earnings of less than USD 1 per day.
The humanitarian situation in DRC remains among the world’s most fatal and complex crises. Some 70 percent of the population is food insecure. Estimates reveal that only one out of ten infants reaches his/her first birthday. Human rights abuses are rampant, with sexual violence against women and children causing extreme physical, psychological and social damage. DRC is at a defining moment in its history. The 2003 peace agreement, democratic elections of 2006 and the disarmament of numerous militias have increased prospects for peace, poverty reduction and the return of hundreds of thousands of displaced persons.
Against this background, the DRC 2008 Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP) has outlined strategic priorities to assist conflict-affected populations most in need. Agriculture and food security interventions form an integral part of assistance under the 2008 HAP. With agriculture as a means to sustainably improve household nutrition and food security, rehabilitation of the sector will be paramount to the country’s progress towards recovery.
FAO in DRC
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the lead agency in the food security and agriculture sector. FAO has been helping communities affected by conflict and natural disasters in DRC through its emergency and rehabilitation programme for 20 years. Millions of rural households have received assistance through FAO’s programme in DRC. FAO’s expertise in food security, farming, livestock, fisheries and forestry actively focuses on empowering rural communities to restore local food production and provide a sustainable exit from food aid – actions which are essential to lasting recovery and self-reliance.
To achieve this, FAO provides vulnerable households with the productive tools and assistance necessary to resume livelihood activities. In 2007, FAO interventions in DRC directly assisted over 500 000 households, equivalent to approximately 2.5 million people. Thanks to donor funding, FAO was able to provide seeds, farming tools, fishing equipment, livestock, veterinary supplies and training to beneficiaries. This assistance equipped households with the means to resume their livelihoods and produce food in a lasting way.
FAO distributed quality agricultural inputs that responded to the needs and difficulties faced by farmers, such as high-yielding seed varieties and cassava cuttings, which are tolerant to mosaic disease. FAO also rehabilitated feeder roads to reduce the isolation of rural communities and facilitate their access to basic services, markets and water points. FAO dedicated special focus to increasing the reintegration of ex-combatants and involvement of women in agricultural activities. Priority attention was also dedicated to households with malnourished children, victims of sexual violence, people with disabilities, HIV/AIDS-affected families, displaced persons, returnees, repatriates and households headed by women.
2008 HAP for DRC
The humanitarian community has appealed for USD 575 million through the 2008 HAP. The primary funding mechanism for DRC is the Pooled Fund, a multi-donor humanitarian fund that aims to strengthen coordination and increase the extent to which funding responds to priority humanitarian needs. FAO’s activities form part of priority assistance dedicated to food security, nutrition and coordination efforts.